Meet Michael Liu in Jam City’s latest Employee Spotlight. As the Lead Content Designer for Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Michael and his team surpass the limits of their creativity to bring home a familiar experience through a brand new medium to millions of fans around the world.
What drew you to Jam City?
I’ve always wanted to work in games and Jam City’s core values and diverse portfolio of highly successful mobile games resonated with me.
Describe your role on the team.
I lead a team of nine exceptionally talented Associate Designers in implementing various forms of content. This includes anything from visualizing complex narrative scenes in 3D space to building new game features and mechanics from the ground up. Imagine our game as car, and each of the component manufacturers a separate department within the studio. Our job is to take the high end components (courtesy of Jam City) and assemble the fastest possible vehicle while utilizing the most optimal assembly techniques.
What do you find most rewarding about your role?
What I consider the most important part of my role – directing the growth of my team in a close mentorship capacity. Throughout the life cycle of this game, I’ve had the privilege of witnessing members of my team exemplify what it means to be hard working, continually push the boundaries and limitations of what can be accomplished through our implementation systems and ultimately step into positions of leadership. For me, their success is my success and there isn’t a feeling more rewarding.
What challenges and unique opportunities arose when putting together content for Hogwarts Mystery?
One of the most difficult challenges we had to overcome during the initial development cycle was figuring out the best ways in visualizing complex narrative content while taking into consideration the limitations of our platform. We knew the expectations fans had around the world, and we wanted to deliver. We did everything we could to provide our liveliest version of Hogwarts, with all the polygons and students everywhere while always taking into consideration optimization within a wide range of devices. And though the discussion is still a constantly evolving one and something we’re continuing to fine tune to this day- in building this game I believe we have set the foundation for what can be considered the “gold standard” within the industry for narrative games.
What is it like to work on an game that stems from an IP that has become a cultural influencer for people around the world?
Words cannot express. Harry Potter was a huge part of my childhood. I grew up waiting in line at the bookstore for each of the new releases. I laughed with Harry and his friends through their adventures through Hogwarts, and I cried miserably upon the death of Dumbledore (spoiler alert). Now I’m responsible for delivering content to an entire generation of fans yearning for more stories, through an entirely new medium that further elevates their understanding of the world they’ve grown to know and love. To say that this is a dream come true would be an understatement.
What do you think makes Jam City stand out as a trailblazer in the gaming industry?
I believe the driving force behind our company’s success lies in our diverse portfolio of games that focus on player experiences first. Success comes naturally when players are genuinely having fun playing your games.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned while working at Jam City?
woke humble. Go into every conversation assuming the other person knows something you don’t, and it’s likely you’ll leave the conversation having learned something new.
What advice would you give other employees about how to succeed in their role?
These last two questions are really stretching my knowledge on philosophical idioms, however the best advice I can give based off personal experience is to never settle for mediocrity. Constantly strive to elevate your ability to create at the highest level and you will naturally be positioned for success. No one should hold you to a higher standard than the standard you hold for yourself.